Saturday, June 13, 2009
Red Robin Doesn't Suck
When word first began circulating about all the Bat-family reshuffling, my first question was, “What’s going to happen to Tim (Drake) Wayne?” After Wonder Woman, Tim – Robin III, if you like – is my favorite DC Comics character. With Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne cast as the new Batman & Robin, I was afraid DC was going to so something dumb like “kill” Tim or send him off-grid for a year during the reboot.
Alas, Tim is alive and (sorta) well as Red Robin, but I had no expectations that Red Robin No. 1 would be good. In fact, as I reluctantly handed over my $2.99, I was mentally preparing for abject disappointment. What a pleasant surprise that it was a good read and a thoughtful step forward for the character.
Unlike Dick, Tim became an orphan relatively recently, when his biological father died in the events of “Identity Crisis.” Batman’s disappearance has hit him particularly hard, and it certainly doesn’t help that Damian – who once tried to kill him – is not only wearing the Robin costume but also taunting him as an imposter. Bruce may have adopted Tim, but Damian is playing the biological card.
At first, this struck me as outrageous. Why would Dick allow that evil little shit to be Robin to his Batman? But considering the enormous responsibility Dick feels to honor Batman’s legacy, I can see how he would take it upon himself to raise and rehabilitate Damian as Bruce might have. He views Tim as his highly capable younger brother who can assist the new team in any way he likes. But Tim, angry and grieving, isn’t convinced that Batman is dead. So after punching Damian in the face (yay!) he heads to Europe to think, fight some bad guys in a new costume and, ever the detective, search for Bruce.
Tim almost always has his wits about him, so it’s interesting to see him question his state of mind and place in the world. Chris Yost’s storyline is pretty intense, and the art’s not bad – though Tim seems to morph into a 30-year-old bodybuilder when he’s in costume. Overall, it’s a promising character evolution that has raised my hopes for Red Robin considerably.